Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Finches, Car Stuff, and a Molly-Dog

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

The house finches on our porch grew and grew until they looked to be about the same size as their parents. There scarcely seemed to be enough room for them all in the nest!

Yesterday, I noticed that one of the four had hopped out of the nest and was sitting off to the side on the ledge:

Later in the day, I looked again and saw only three.

By this morning, there was just one lone bird sitting on the nest. I missed the big moment ;o), but Donald saw the last one hop-hop-hopping and finally hopping right out of the nest and flying away. :o)

I might add that they left their nasty nest behind. I guess they expect me to clean up after them!

So-- no birds left in that nest-- but while looking at that last, sad bird, I noticed that there's another nest being built on the opposite end of the porch. I don't know if it's the same bird, but I think it might be. Good grief, they're prolific!!

Ha! I was just looking up the species to see if the same bird could lay eggs again so quickly*, when I found this little tidbit, described on the site as a "cool fact":
(Those with weak stomachs may want to skip this part. (g))
When nestling House Finches defecate, the feces are contained in a membranous sac, as in most birds. The parents eat the fecal sacs of the nestlings for about the first five days. In most songbird species, when the parents stop eating the sacs, they carry the sacs away and dispose of them. But House Finch parents do not remove them, and the sacs accumulate around the rim of the nest.
Yes, that's so very "cool". Gross! Well, that explains the mess, I guess. I didn't think all nests were so nasty. . .

*It turns out they can lay up to six times in one breeding season, but usually no more than three of those "clutches" of eggs survive to hatch.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

We had a little car trouble, Monday. Donald found out that one of the engine mounts on the PT Cruiser had broken. It was one of those things that probably needed to be taken care of, so we went ahead and took it to the mechanic. That's never fun, but at least it wasn't a huge repair, and they had it ready for us to pick up this morning.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

Since I had to drive to town anyway, this morning (to take Donald to pick up the PT Cruiser), I decided to drive a little further and get some grocery shopping done.

So, I go to the nearest store. It's not the one I usually go to, and I'm slightly uncomfortable. (I don't know what it is about this store, exactly, but I don't like it as much.) It's early, but there are still quite a few people coming and going. I pull the lever to open the car door-- then pause at the sound of an alarm. It takes me a second or two to realize that it is my car alarm that is sounding. Loudly. (Well, when is a car alarm ever not loud?) I fumble around-- unzip my purse and find the keys-- and finally locate a button that shuts off the noise.

. . .The comparative silence is deafening. . .

How embarrassing!

The older I get, the more convinced I am that I might be just a tad bit ditsy. In fact, I think it's becoming worse. This makes me somewhat sad, but I'm coming to terms with it. So what if I'm slowly morphing into Lucy Ricardo? At least I know things will work out by the end of the half-hour. ;o)

I decide that I must've accidentally pressed the alarm button against the steering wheel while getting up. I notice that someone who had just parked nearby has pulled through to go to another part of the parking lot. Probably to get away from the crazy lady (i.e. me). ;o) However, there are no security guards coming up to call me "Ma'am" and ask if I need help, so I go to open the door again. (I guess I closed it when I was startled by the alarm.)

Again there is an irritating blaring of the car horn. At least this time I know which button to hit to shut the thing off, but not soon enough to keep everyone in the world (or just the parking lot, maybe) from hearing it. And worse yet, I'm now trapped in my own car. (Sort of.) If I open the door again, I risk setting off the alarm. I am not willing to do that. Not again-- not here. Yet with the price of gas, it is unthinkable to drive around in search of a private spot to get in touch with my inner Hyundai and figure out whether or not the Elantra's possessed by an evil spirit. ;o)

I pull out the owner's manual and eventually figure out that I must have accidentally "armed" the car's alarm system by pressing the lock button (on my key chain) while still in the car. (Or something.) All I have to do is press the unlock button, and I am no longer held hostage by the threat of humiliation. Mystery solved! I get out of the car and walk along just as though I'd never heard of such a thing as a car alarm. (g)

The moral of the story: Any time you break your regular routine, you run the risk of something going wrong. Locking your keys in the car, for instance, or setting off your own car alarm twice in the space of a few minutes. Or maybe that's just true for me. . .

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

I got some of my favorite chicken burritos on the infamous shopping trip (see above), and I decided to have one for lunch when I got home.

They changed the recipe!!
(Shocking, isn't it?)

And they don't even warn you on the wrapper! No mention of "NEW!" or "IMPROVED!" The wrapper looks exactly the same, except that the small-print heating instructions have changed. Now they're very particular about how you heat them-- even insisting that you check the temperature with a thermometer in several places after microwaving it!

I have to admit that the new instructions make me look at the once-beloved food as more biohazard than burrito. Worse yet, the new recipe is slightly "jucky", as we say around here. ("J" and "Y" mix-ups are classic Swedish-to-English bloopers, but I don't remember exactly how this one got started. I suspect it was my invention. . .)

I think I may have eaten my last chicken burrito.

(Well, I have a few of the "good ones" left, but after they're gone, I doubt I'll buy more.)

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

Ever since we began clearing out a flower bed to make way for the patio, Molly's been making it one of her favorite places to snooze. The soil there is very sandy, and I guess it's soft. I have a feeling she'd rather sleep on sand than the pavers we're eventually going to put there. Maybe the shade will make up for it. That and a doggie blanket/bed.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~